Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. In fact, on any given day, more than 158 million Americans drink tea – and I am definitely one of them. But for me it isn’t “any” given day, it’s “every” given day! I admit that I can become quite boring, with my simple mugs of green, white and herbal “teas”, but am inspired by delightful infusions like the simple tea chocolate bark recipe below.
And of course, since it is summer, iced tea is pouring aplenty. I was actually surprised to find out that 85 percent of the tea consumed in the U.S. is iced (definitely not the case in Asia!).
Perfect Unsweetened Iced Tea
Quick How To: Bring 1 quart fresh, cold filtered water to a full boil in teapot. Remove from heat and add 8–10 black tea bags per quart (if using green tea bags, let water cool for 5 minutes before adding; for white tea bags, let water cool for 10 minutes before adding). Steep for three to five minutes and pour over ice cubes or into additional cold water, based on desired taste. To serve, pour into tall glasses filled with ice; garnish with lemon or mint. If desired, sweeten with your favorite sweetener (a few drops of stevia, honey, or plain old sugar).
Choosing the Right Tea: Here is a quick little guide, shared with us by the Tea Council of the USA, to help you pair teas with your dairy-free meal or recipe (listed from lightest to most intense):
- White teas exhibit a natural sweetness and lightness; the subtle flavors pair well with mild tasting sweets or simple salads that don’t overpower the flavor of the tea.
- Green teas, such as Sencha and Jasmine, have a more delicate flavor profile, characterized as grassy or citrusy, and pair well with subtly flavored foods, such as seafood, rice and vegetables.
- Oolong teas, such as Wuyi Shan and Pouchong, are characterized by a slight smoky flavor and a sweet, nutty finish. These teas pair well with spicy or smoky foods, seafood dishes and fruit.
- Black teas from traditional origins such as India, Sri Lanka and China, as well as English and Irish breakfast varieties and flavored black teas such as Earl Grey and Darjeeling, are characterized by a strong, aromatic flavor. These teas pair well with dark chocolate (like the tea chocolate bark recipe below!), eggs, meats and heartier foods.
Special Diet Notes: Darjeeling Tea Chocolate Bark
By ingredients, this tea chocolate bark recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and generally food allergy-friendly. But be sure to choose your tea and chocolate wisely!
Loose Darjeeling tea should be no problem at all, but if you opt to venture into bagged teas that are flavored in any way, those occasionally (though not very often) contain dairy, gluten, and/or soy, from what I’ve seen. As for the cacao in this tea chocolate bark, be sure to choose a dairy-free option that is of good quality. My favorite right now is Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Bars (not the morsels), which is also a vegan, organic, and allergy-friendly brand. For a more rustic tea chocolate bark, I like Taza Chocolate (pictured).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
- In top of double boiler over low heat, melt chocolate, stirring frequently, until ¾ chocolate pieces are melted, only slightly warm to the touch. Remove pan from heat.
- Stir in tea leaves; continue stirring until chocolate is melted and tea is evenly distributed.
- Pour mixture onto baking sheet and spread evenly to ⅛-inch thickness. Let come to room temperature, allowing bark to solidify, about four hours. When set, break into pieces.
- Store in airtight, covered container at room temperature.